You can’t just do well you have to do good!

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Outdoor Media Association CEO Charmaine Moldrich speaks out on all things European, OOH and the creative “zeitgeist.”

For someone who dreams of a perpetual summer, being in Europe for the first few weeks of the Australian winter was sublime. The weather was brilliant, the sense of joie de vivre watching Europeans enjoying the warmth, after many months of winter, was indeed wonderful to behold. Everyone was out and about with a spring in their step.

While this might give you the impression that I was holidaying, in fact I was in Europe to present a paper on the Australian Out-of-Home (OOH) industry at the Annual FEPE conference held in Vienna. The Federation European Publicite Exterieur (FEPE) is made up of the national outdoor advertising federations of France, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Italy and the Netherlands. I then went on to France to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

As you would expect, the two conferences had very different audiences, with FEPE focusing exclusively on OOH and Cannes focusing on creativity. There were, however, several common themes in the content. Storytelling and technology were heavily explored and commented on at both: in the context of creating connections with the people we are trying to reach.

Another key point made over and over again was that it is our duty as businesses not to just do well commercially but to also do good, leave a legacy, create a movement, make a difference.

Which was the reason given by the judges of the Cannes Lions for awarding the OOH Grand Prix to the Australian ANZ Bank’s GAYTMs. Yes, I know this is not traditional OOH but nevertheless the GAYTMS tell a great story. The campaign tells you a lot about how the bank wants to position itself and it clearly captures a topical moment in time in a fun and cheeky way that would put a smile on most peoples’ faces. That certainly was my reaction the first time I used a GAYTM in Surry Hills this year. So, I cheered and whooped loudly in Cannes at the Awards ceremony, celebrating that the judges had recognised, acknowledged and awarded the prize to the campaign that captured the zeitgeist, and had achieved social contextual relevancy.

Despite much talk about big data and the advances of the various technology platforms it was heartening to come back to some very simple truths – we like telling and hearing stories, we want them to touch us and we want them to be relevant. Technology is not an end in itself it is another means to an end; it is just another vehicle for getting our messages across.

The role OOH can play in making these simple truths come to life is in our ability to curate a brand’s story across peoples’ daily lives, from the journey they take from leaving home to purchasing the product. Additionally, we can more and more, through technology, make that connection between brands, products and people along the way and we can do it without bombarding or interrupting because we are part of everyday lives. And if we can encourage brands to make a difference as well along the way we have not just done well but done some good.

Like my dream of a perpetual summer I can but dream that OOH will be a brand’s beacon to radiate their story. And given how well we can tell a simple story and partner with technology I know that this dream is more likely to come true, far more than my dream of an endless summer.